Heritage Restoration, Inc.

Holiday Bathroom Courtisies

The holiday season brings some absolutes.  In my family, the holidays mean lots of food and the eventual potty talk.  Not mouth, talk.  Just as we need to discuss the next meal before we eat the first, the gastrointestinal process always seems to come up. To help stave off the awkwardness for some, I try to be sure the toilets are functioning well, even when I am a guest (sometimes I sneak a fix).  Plumbers find this the busiest and most panic stricken season. We tend to overlook the intricacies of how our house’s work.   I once had a shower valve no one could figure out; requiring a pre-shower tutorial or they would just stuck their heads under the bath if I forgot. Here is how to prevent calling a plumber, making your guests as comfortable as possible and helping to get ready for the big flow.


Too many households tolerate a poorly functioning toilet, I know, because it is another one of my pet peeves.  The function of a toilet is pretty simple.  Water fills a tank, you push a handle, a valve opens, water drops, pushes out the waste and it fills back up.  Yet the simplest function can be the most difficult for many reasons.


How do they fail?  Start by observing.  Close the toilet lid, sit backwards on it, lift off the back cover and let her rip, or flush it.  Watch what happens to all of the parts.  Repeat until you see what’s wrong.


The Handle: How does it travel?  Does it have any conflicts?  Is it attached to the flapper?  Is the chain too long?


The Flapper holds the water back until you need it.  See if it is snug by listening for leaking water.  The water in the tank is clean; always was, always will be.  If anything, it may have some mildew in the tank, that’s it.


The Float:  This is the part that moves up as the tank fills.  When the water is at the fill line (notch inside the tank) the toilet stops filling.  You can manipulate the float to see if it is working properly.


Refill & Overflow Tube:  The water fills through the overflow tube.  The refill is clipped inside the overflow tube to prevent splash.  When the tank overfills, it will keep running.


Shut off valve:  The shut off valve allows you to work without water.  It is located on the bottom left of the toilet.  Clockwise for off, counterclockwise for on.



The Run

The running toilet is the biggest culprit of toilet woes.  It can be a bad flapper, a stuck handle or a bad float.  But don’t be too fast to throw out a toilet from a bad flapper. If you need new parts, copy the make and model before you get new parts. They are not all created equal.


Wiggle, Rock or Tilt

A wiggle, rock or tilt is not good for the toilet or the user.  A toilet should be level in all directions, not moving at all, and sitting solidly on the floor.  A wiggle or rock may be fixed temporarily as long as what is underneath is sound using plastic shims pushed lightly into place. A rotting or unstable base is dangerous and should be replaced.


The Seal

The main seals to be aware of are the water feed and the waste.  Look for water on the floor.  First test the water line by wiping it off with a cloth.  If it gets wet again, then tighten the bolts after the valve gently.  If it still gets wet, then turn off the valve.  Flush.  Check for dry again.  If it is still wet, you may need a plumber to replace the valve.  If it is dry after all that, you may need to replace the water line from the valve to the tank.  That is a standard piece, only the length changes. Tighten the floor bolts too much can break the bowl.


The Sweats

A tank sweating does not happen when it is cold out but when the water is colder than the air outside, causing condensation on the tank.  Adding warmer water to the tank, or waiting it out till it gets cooler resolves it.



Have a plunger in a predictable spot, inside the bathroom.

Leave matches or spray.

Make sure your fan works.

Show your guests two bathrooms, one for the short visit, and the other for more contenplative times.

Have enough TP for 10 parties.

Wipes are not just for kids you know.


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